London Walls in the Tower Area

Visited 17 March 2006

When emerging from the London Subway at Tower Hill, it's hard NOT to see the Roman Wall, thanks to a statue believed to be Trajan pointing it out (just in case you'd miss a 35-foot tall wall two millennia older than anything else nearby).  The Roman wall was essentially a sandwich with sandstone bread slices filled with rubble and mortar as stoned peanut butter filling.  This gives us two standing vertical stacks -- pretty unstable if you think of a little kid stacking up blocks -- so periodically the builders would span the two stone slices with tile as can be seen with the red marks on the wall underneath Trajan's raised right arm.

The Romans built the wall here to a 14.5 feet tall sentry walkway topped by about 6 feet of battlements.  During the middle ages, Londoners added to its height as seen by the irregularity of the stones as the wall rises.

Here's another view of our friend Trajan with the Tower of London in the background.  (Ignore all that poured cement around the Underground entrance.)  William the Conqueror used parts of the wall to jump start his castle building in 1078 when he rushed to build his own Green zone to separate his French court from the recently conquered Brits.  Parts of the Roman wall still stand inside the tower.

Near Trajan's statue is a copy of the tombstone of Gaius Julius Alpinus Classicianus who rebuilt this area for the Romans just after Queen Boudica scorched its earth.  The original, now living in the British Museum, is the earliest known inscription in London.  Click here to see if your Latin is still good enough to read it.

Above is the only surviving (or at least discovered) postern gate in the medieval wall.  (Its construction suggests that it was built in the 13th century to fortify the nearby Tower of London.)  Nearby Subway construction unearthed it.  A postern gate often functioned as a secret entrance to a fort, allowing defenders to sneak out and do their mischief against the attackers.  This one had a space which was protected by portcullises -- those iron-clad wooden grilles that would drop down on ether side once the enemy entered the space, rendering them sitting (and soon-to-be) dead ducks, perhaps sautéed in hot oil dumped through vents in the top.

Nearby is Tower Hill -- site of public executions.  A select few (often women) lost their heads privately inside the Tower of London.) 

 Next: Aldgate | Overview Page
For an index of all of our London pictures, click here
Created on 14 November 2006

Home Page | Travel Index | About Us | Contact Us | Search our site

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.